Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal are one of the revelations from this year in the Premier League. They are currently leading the table with a five-points difference towards the second team, Manchester City. The Spanish coached arrived in December 2019 to the bench of the team he previously played for. That season ended up with a FA Cup title after the break for the pandemic, but there was still a lot of work to do with the squad.
Arsenal have been unable to establish a winning program capable of battling with the big clubs in the last decade such as Liverpool and Manchester City after the exit of Wenger. Precisely, Arteta was part of the City’s bench as Guardiola’s assistant coach, where he certainly earned the required experience.
The origins of Arteta as a player are in Barça’s academy. As a coach, he is part of Guardiola’s philosophy. His Arsenal is known for a high pressure when they have to recover the ball, the way they play it from backwards, and the freedom of movements in the midfield, led by Odeggard and Xhaka.
After several failed projects Arteta found himself with a roster full of pieces that will not fit in with each other. He had to fix that issue and two seasons and a half after the machine would start to work out.
An Arsenal full of young talent:
The young faces prevail in a squad that really has chemistry on the field. Multiple signings from this season such as Gabriel Jesús or Zinchenko have fit in perfectly with the coach’s idea, as they came in from Manchester City.
The Brazilian striker has scored five goals and given five assists in 14 games. He is known for his mobility in the entire offensive area, which creates spaces for the wingers such as Saka (six goals and six assists ) or Martinelli (seven goals and two assists) to take advantage of. The width and dribbling in the wings are also key in Arteta’s plan, as they are able to create quick and effective scoring chances through counterattacks.
Zinchenko switched the midfielder role that he carried out in the academy to playing as a full-back with Guardiola. An invention that provided the team with the possibility of him combining within the middle with De Bruyne. His role in Arteta’s Arsenal is very similar, as he makes the midfield to be more freed so Odegaard can step up offensively.
To see Odegaard playing that well in a football where the role of the playmaker is in danger of extinction is a blessing. The Norwegian knows perfectly how to read the pace of his team and he find the best chances between lines or even joining the finishing area. He has seven goals and five assists in the season so far and so he is being the best player of the team.
Xhaka leading the timing and Thomas Partey with his presence both defensively and offensively top off the midfield. On defense, the already mentioned Zinckenko is joined by Ben White, Magalhaes and Saliba, who is probably the best central defender in the entire league. With his playing ability, Ramsdale has taken over the goal and his performing excellently.
The rebuild process has been slow, but the reward is a young roster that is performing above the expectations. Arteta, also young but very experienced, is establishing a program that aims to be relevant in Europe. The first step is to keep the pace in the battle for the title against a Manchester City that will not make things easy.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: @ArsenalEspanol.